From Nokia 6210 to iPhone 11, face to face communication is dead. Millennials did not only lose their attention but also their ability to concentrate. Digital distraction is a basic component of our society. Will love survive?
Lucy and Paul are a happy couple. They know everything about each other. They spend time together even if they don’t spend time together. How? They are virtually connected. The only move they cannot track is their feelings. Everything else is and has to be under control, not only within their relationship.
For Lucy and Paul, waking up means hugs and emails in bed. Somewhere along the line, the couple decided to stay offline for another 30 minutes in the morning but Paul surrendered quickly. He searches for his smartphone with his eyes still closed, somehow feeling bad about it, somehow calming down. Lucy thinks he is obsessed with information, looking at all these News Apps. She prefers to start the day with WhatsApp, unanswered messages cause her anxiety.
3 years into the relationship, Lucy and Paul finally moved in together. While Lucy works in investor relations for an early-stage FinTech Start-Up, Paul executes a similar role from the Venture Capital side. Equal job profiles, the same group of friends, and a cutting-edge daily routine: their lifestyles are a convenient match. Nevertheless, they depend on tools and technology to stay in touch.
It started when they first met, not via Tinder (uh, cliché) but on Instagram. Luckily, these days nobody has to start a real conversation to show interest in someone. Liking pictures is way more efficient, reacting to a story is a plus and a direct message basically feels like a drink. When Lucy met Paul on a day rave a couple of weeks after the first Like, she had already gathered enough information to make out with him without feeling like a hook-up.
From that day on Lucy kept optimizing her Instagram profile more than ever. With 10k followers, some would call her micro-influencer but for her, it’s an alternate source of self-confidence. Lucy is proud not to use photoshop, even though the variety of integrated filters these days shows exactly the same effects. Her IG-Ego is wrinkle-free. In comparison to Lucys 350 posts with exotic and well-designed captions, Pauls’s site is quite minimalistic. It shows a bon-vivant, artsy, and unremarkably wealthy. A Connoisseur, a traveler- exotic are his destinations rather than his captions. While Lucy is convinced, that more is the new less, Paul still sticks to the proven — less is more — strategy.
When Lucy was already head over heels in love with Paul, he was still at a very different stage. That’s when a slight digital mishap almost ruined everything before it started. Apparently Paul wasn’t as single as Lucy thought he was at the time they started dating. 2 months into what Paul referred to as “nothing serious”, he still tried to get the attention of his ex-girlfriend Gina. It was probably more about the fact that she might be over him, than about actually winning her back. Anyways, three After-Work-Negronis let Paul post a nostalgic picture of Gina and him back in the days, forgetting to customize his audience. Gina didn’t show any interest, Lucy’s heart was broken for a while and Paul had to invest a lot of nice words to get another chance with what he then referred to as “probably something serious”.
3 years later, Lucy still didn’t forget. She is not overly jealous, but indeed Paul gave her a valid reason to be cautious. She trusts her boyfriend, but let’s face it: dark-haired, dark-eyed guy, fit, successful and slightly over 30, is in permanent danger of a hostile takeover. Keeping that in mind, Lucy permanently scrolls through Pauls’s social media followers, looking for evidence. Moreover, she knows how often he is online and especially at what time.
For Paul, social media is a pleasant distraction rather than a source of specific information. Sometimes, during face2face conversations, he grasps his phone, scrolls through some newsfeeds, and interacts with people virtually without even noticing. Most probably his counterpart will perceive Paul as impolite and easily bored but the truth is: he is a digital addict. If there is no phone around for some time, Paul’s hands start to nervously search for his virtual distraction. While Lucy wonders about her boyfriend liking 2 pictures of women in Bikinis, Paul didn’t even realize he tapped twice.
What Lucy and Paul are experiencing is a digital nightmare. All Push notifications activated, to post or not to post is the only question that stays in their heads for more than 30 minutes. They do the same things, they tell the same stories, they wear the same clothes because they look at the same people. They cannot concentrate on one thing at the same time. It’s either eat and watch, drink and scroll, talk and look, but it all happens simultaneously. There are barely secrets anymore because not sharing content would already be suspicious. Oversharing and overthinking are equally toxic. In the end, they fight for visibility and feel embattled by observation. What goes around comes around.